What Ice Buckets Teach Us About The Spread of Ideas

 

Actors, sports figures, musicians, and even a former United States President have been doused in ice-cold water in recent days.  If you haven’t witnessed this, you may be enjoying a summer on a remote island with no connection to any media.  For those of us who have watched this phenomenon take off, we may ask what lessons we can all learn from it all.

Why did this take off?  What is it about this campaign that made people act?

 

Purposeful

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is for a meaningful purpose: to raise money to find a cure for a devastating and fatal disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The financial results are stunning.  If the challenge were not tied directly to a bigger purpose, it would have failed.  Not many people would participate without an important cause.  It’s hard to turn down a challenge with a purpose.

“An idea spreads faster when purpose is married to challenge.” -Skip Prichard

 

Powerful

Technology has changed everything.  It’s easy to record a video, upload it to a social media account, and see what happens.  The video brings multiple senses and emotions into play.  We can see our friends’ reaction to the water; we can almost feel the cold of the ice; we hear the laughter in the background.  It’s a powerful multi-sensory appeal.  When you add the emotional appeal of the cause, the call to action becomes almost irresistible.

“An idea spreads faster when more senses are involved in the call to action.” -Skip Prichard

 

Personal

The challenge has a uniquely personal appeal.  One person challenges others to join in.  Instead of merely forwarding an email or sharing something on social media, it demands participation.  That’s where it becomes uniquely personal.  If this challenge were a cookie-cutter replication, it would not spread.  It’s the personal spin that draws us in.  Bill Gates didn’t just have water thrown on him; he sat down and designed a better way to execute.  The personality of each participant shines through.

“An idea spreads faster when personalized.” -Skip Prichard

 

Public

Dan Rather On His Life In the News

 

Two weeks ago, I shared an interview that I did with legendary CBS anchor Dan Rather backstage before our onstage discussion.  Today’s post features the onstage interview.  Onstage we talked about a number of subjects ranging from the personal to the historical.  If you have the time to view it in its entirety, I’m sure you will enjoy it.  Because it is just over thirty minutes and you may not have the time to view it all, I decided to write the subjects we discussed with the approximate time.

If you only tune in for one subject, I suggest you watch Dan Rather give his perspective on Civil Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King and how it impacted his life.  Here are a few highlights from that conversation:

“I find as a nation, as a people, as a society, we have a certain amount of amnesia.  Amnesia about what the reality of the civil rights situation was particularly for people of color….Covering Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement changed me as a person and as a pro….I grew up in a segregated society…if I’m this afraid…what must it be like to be of color and know this is happening down the street?”

Dan Rather understandably became very emotional as he recalled those events.  “To see people in power in city government turn high pressure fire hoses loose on children…I would not have believed people could do this, turn firehoses and vicious dogs on women and children.”   15:18

Interview: